“The COVID-19 epidemic has highlighted the intimate and fragile relationships that exist between us, animals, and our environment,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, based on a growing body of research confirming numerous and inseparable links between climate and health, states that transformational action in every sector, from energy, transportation, and nature to food systems and finance, is required to protect people. The WHO report was released at the same time as an open letter signed by more than two-thirds of the global health workforce – 300 organisations representing at least 45 million doctors and health professionals around the world – urging national leaders and COP26 country delegations to take action on climate change. “We are already reacting to the health consequences induced by climate change everywhere we give care, in our hospitals, clinics, and communities around the world,” the letter states.
“We urge all country leaders and their representatives at COP26 to avoid the approaching health catastrophe by reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to prioritise human health and equity in all climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.” The report and open letter are being released at a time when unprecedented extreme weather events and other climate impacts are wreaking havoc. Heatwaves, storms, and floods have claimed thousands of lives and disturbed millions of others, according to the WHO, while also posing a threat to healthcare systems and facilities at a time when they are most needed. Weather and climate change are jeopardising food security and increasing food-, water-, and vector-borne diseases like malaria, while climate change is also having a severe influence on mental health. “Fossil fuel combustion is killing us. According to the WHO assessment, “climate change is the single greatest health concern confronting humanity.”
According to a new UN health agency assessment released on Monday in the run-up to the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, ambitious national climate commitments are critical for States to ensure a healthy, green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.